By Amber E. Watson
Managed print services (MPS) help organizations of all sizes reduce overall costs, ease the labor of managing a fleet of devices, and provide businesses with a better vision of the printing process, needs, and opportunities for efficiencies going forward.
With a strong sense of an organization’s operational, financial, and technological status, the chief information officer (CIO) typically plays a lead role in deciding what and when to implement MPS or managed document services (MDS).
In the November/December 2013 issue of DPS, we outlined market share leaders providing MPS/MDS services. With this article, we offer a follow-up by presenting real-world examples of the practices in action.
The following highlights two different organizations—a large public school district and a mid-sized grocery store chain—that successfully benefit from various practices afforded by the implementation of MPS/MDS including printer centralization, reporting and scanning capabilities, and simplified IT.
Pittsburgh Gets Schooled with MPS
As the largest of 43 school districts in Allegheny County, and the second largest in PA, Pittsburgh Public Schools currently serve more than 25,000 students in kindergarten through grade 12. Early childhood and pre-kindergarten programs serve over 1,610 students in classrooms across the city. Pittsburgh Public School District employs a total staff of 3,900, including 1,875 teachers.
Before implementing MPS, the school district wanted to reduce costs without affecting the students’ ability to learn. Secondarily, a streamlined workflow for staff was important.
In 2012, Xerox analyzed the print infrastructure across all public schools within the Pittsburgh District to determine if a centralized platform would be beneficial. By examining how resources are spent towards printing, and considering the solution’s scalability options, MPS solved multiple district obstacles with centralized production, reporting capabilities, and scanning functionality.
Saving School Money
The school district’s primary goal for implementing MPS was to reduce costs without diminishing the education of the students. “Over the last ten years, our school system had declined from 80,000 students to roughly 25,000,” says Mark Campbell, CIO, School District of Pittsburgh. “We faced additional school closures and consolidations as a result of large budget cuts from the state. We had to find ways to reinvest or strategically invest in a more sound education delivery model,” he adds.
Xerox analyzed the school district’s infrastructure and determined if centralized management and maintenance of printers would help provide more economic processes.
A secondary goal for MPS was to automate workflows. “We looked at different software options that would help simplify everyday processes for our teachers and staff,” adds Campbell.
Xerox streamlined Pittsburgh School District’s network of more than 6,000 outdated and decentralized printers that were scattered throughout the district to a centrally managed network of 500 new multifunction devices on a cost-per-copy basis. Pittsburgh School District’s own on-site technician supports these devices. “The transition to MPS is easier with an on-site technician on hand,” attests Campbell. “Previously, we had to call a support line and queue up the next person, but now we have a dedicated technician who builds relationships across the schools, knows the buildings and the machines, and is proactive in addressing our needs.”
Xerox’s reporting capability highlights machines that are under- or over-utilized, resolving the issue or sending large print jobs to a Xerox managed print shop for more effective production.
Another component of MPS is scanning functionality, which is a capability Pittsburgh School District uses to access and share electronic documents. In addition, standard double-sided printing results in considerable financial and environmental benefits. “You may not think that the amount of paper would be significant, but when you consider the many schools and the tests that have to be generated, it adds up,” shares Campbell. Moving to an MPS platform allows the school district to change how documents are printed and processed.
Prior to implementing an MPS strategy with Xerox, the district ran on a paper-based infrastructure that hindered document sharing across numerous buildings and wasted consumables. As a result of replacing outdated, decentralized printers with new networked multifunction devices, the school district streamlined its printing infrastructure by approximately 80 percent; created greater efficiency and sustainability through a transition from paper to digital documents; and freed up IT staff.
Grocer Gets Centralized
Rosauers Supermarkets was founded in the 1940’s and currently operates 21 grocery stores in the Inland Northwest. The regionalized chain recently rolled out Lexmark’s MPS program, which allows for the central management of printer settings and controls, automatic fulfillment of supplies, and on-site maintenance for all devices in the program.
When Lexmark’s MPS was first presented to Rosauers, Steve Lee, director, information systems and communications, Rosauers Supermarkets, ran the numbers and saw that the program would lower the company’s total cost of ownership when it came to the printing and faxing areas of operation. “It also included new devices that were more capable, along with service components, and automatic fulfillment,” he adds.
The projected lower operational costs allowed Rosauers to upgrade equipment with newer technologies, reduce failure rates, and allow for device consolidation in some locations.
Rosauers already had a base of reliable devices in place by the time they decided to invest in MPS. Within the past five years, Lee worked to standardize printers across the organization. “When I first arrived, there were inkjets and some printers that were close to a decade old, along with toner and drums stored in the mailroom. Much of the inventory was dated and unused.”
He chose to standardize with Lexmark, and from that experience, gained a sense of what the printing needs were across different areas of the company. “As we looked into specific areas, such as our pharmacies, we saw the need for providing newer, more reliable printers because they print on paper as well as labels. Another mission-critical area is our point of sale and tag printing, which goes on the shelves,” he says. High-quality output and reliability is required of those devices.
In addition, store managers had asked for color capabilities and the ability to scan, copy, and fax. Moving to the MPS program allowed Rosauers to pick a device that provided all of those functionalities in one. At the corporate level, it was a matter of putting all current Lexmark printers into a program for automatic supply fulfillment.
Before and After MPS
Prior to MPS, when one of Rosauer’s printers went down it was sent out of corporate and serviced locally in Spokane, WA. “This method was subject to long delays, not to mention the added cost of shipping, and the labor of trying to manage the extra resources,” shares Lee.
That is not to say that MPS is without flaw. “There are different types of delays,” he explains, “Our service provider sends a technician to the stores in need with a one- to two-day turnaround, however, if there are parts that need to be ordered, there could be added delay.” Certain stores have systems in place to work around some of those key print problem areas; this was developed into the program as it was rolled out to the stores.
Part of the learning curve was realizing that there was a substantial amount of pre-coordination that needed to be done when putting MPS in place. When first signing up for the program, Rosauers was assigned a project manager at Lexmark. At first, Lee thought it might be overkill, but as they got closer to rolling out all the different devices, preconfiguring them, and coordinating the scheduling of those devices in the stores, he understood the need for added support. “It was a more involved project than anticipated and the project manager helped ensure it went smoothly. It was good to have Lexmark to run interference and get things done at the base level.”
It was also a coordinated effort at the corporate office. Since MPS provides Rosauers with central administration, a technician at the corporate office worked with the Lexmark technician in the field to ensure that as the new printers were brought online, the different computers or devices that printed to them were updated with the current drivers.
As for how the staff and store managers were affected by the implementation of MPS, Lee states that it was a welcome change. “Because the staff came from a very manual program, the automated program was easier from the get-go. Everything from rolling out printer drivers from the corporate office to keeping them standardized in various locations is almost seamless for the stores.”
Lee says the only difference now is store managers contact Lexmark to troubleshoot or resolve issues instead of the corporate office.
Since the company is relatively new to the program, it still has monthly meetings scheduled with Lexmark to continue to work out any bugs in the system.
MPS helps Rosauers solve many different challenges, such as the coordination of devices with issues. Whereas before, the corporate office needed to provide technical troubleshooting, determine if a replacement device needed to be sent out to that location, then coordinate the effort back and forth. The new MPS program essentially removes that from their workload. “This gives us more time to focus on strategic projects within our company,” adds Lee.
Simple issues such as settings were also more difficult to address in the past. “Someone would change the settings on a particular printer, the next person would come in and suddenly something wouldn’t work right, so corporate would have to figure out what happened and how to fix it,” recalls Lee, “But with central administration, we simply revert it back to the settings the printer should be at.”
The company also used to negotiate for supplies with outside vendors. This required store managers to log into a Web site, place an order, and if the product was not in stock, wait. With MPS, supplies are automatically ordered, providing labor savings and peace of mind.
A Vision for the Future
Central administration provides Rosauers with a better vision of the company’s printing habits and associated costs. MPS allows the business to track spending its and identify opportunities to find better processes and practices to save dollars. “Should we choose to implement a program, we now track the results clearly and analyze if they were effective from a supplies and volume standpoint,” says Lee. “MPS gives a dollar number based on how many pages and the amount of ink used, whereas before it was just a guess.”
A goal for the future is making better use of scanning. A lot of devices in the corporate offices and stores now have scanning capabilities, so instead of printing, the staff scans to the system and uses MDS to organize items. “The grocery business is still paper intensive, and new capabilities with technology add the ability to scan, store, and send electronic documents,” says Lee.
Every company should look at operations and determine if added efficiencies could come from MPS. Rosauers found opportunities for discussion and improvement in almost every area of business, whether saving labor or adding functionality, it all plays a part in better operations.
MPS provides businesses with centralized management capabilities, better logistics, and local service instead of a hot swap program run out of the corporate office. Automatic supply procurement helps prevent sites from crisis situations and provide added functionality.
One main benefit of MPS is that it allows increased functionality at a lower cost. Pittsburgh Public School District, for example, benefits from a total annual printing and consumable cost reduction.
Once MPS is implemented, many CIOs wonder how they ever got along without it, as a successful program lowers costs and simplifies print management. dps
Mar2014, DPS Magazine